“How to do good inclusive work; just be human”

“How to do good inclusive work; just be human”

Circus Sonnenstich is the artistic branch of the Zentrum für bewegte Kunst in Berlin. It’s a unique project and the only professional, inclusive circus in Germany. They work with people with Trisomy 21 and ensure a productive and safe working environment where they can thrive. Michael Pigl founded Circus Sonnenstich in 1997 with the aim of creating a place where everyone could be themselves. With nearly 30 years of experience, they have developed a comprehensive work method that enables the artists to bring out their full potential. How do they achieve good inclusive work?

Most artists in Circus Sonnenstich have Trisomy 21. Michael believes it’s important not to refer to this condition as Down syndrome. Michael explains: “Down syndrome is named after the British physician John Langdon-Down, who first described the syndrome, but the syndrome has nothing to do with Down. That’s why I prefer to talk about Trisomy 21.”

Meet the artist

Ragha Ronachor Ragha Ronachor

Ragna Ronacher, 35, is one of the oldest artists at Circus Sonnenstich, with 26 years of experience since she was 9. She loves diabolo and stilts, especially training with her twin sister. During the day, she works in childcare, but after work, she’s far from tired and goes to the circus training. The highlight for her: performing at the Chamäleon Theaterin Berlin, something she’d do a hundred times. After years of COVID and personal challenges, she’s now back to full health. Her friends at Circus Sonnestich are dear to her. She wants to keep growing in diabolo and dance.

 Jannic Golm  Jannic Golm

Jannic Golm, 33, is an artist and circus trainer at Circus Sonnenstich. He loves to perform acrobatics. Together with circus artist Alaa Abu Alrob, he creates a wonderful act. The applause at the end of the act makes him feel good. Sometimes he finds it scary to perform, but with Alaa, it’s always fun. Circus makes him feel great; he is very strong and fit. When he learns a new trick he feels proud, and even prouder when he can teach it to other artists.

Elias Massing

Elias Massing, 17, is almost done with school. In the future, he wants to become a circus trainer. His favorite part of performing is the thrill he feels before stepping on stage and the joyful relief he experiences when the audience applauds. It makes him feel wonderful. He wants to become even more proficient at diabolo than he is now. He loves Circus Sonnestich because all his friends are there.

Sascha Perthel Sascha Perthel

Sascha Perthel, 31, was just 11 years old when he first joined the circus. His greatest joy comes from dancing, especially when the stage is filled with billowing smoke. To him, juggling feels like a dance with snowballs. At Circus Sonnestich, he finds an outlet for his emotions and creativity. “When I dance, it feels like everything falls into place, and I’m at my happiest,” he shares. While performing brings him joy, being in the audience is perhaps an even greater passion. His hobby? Applauding. “I love circus,” he says with a big smile.

About The Author

Cristel Brandt

My name is Cristel Brandt and I am 22 years old. Currently, I am studying journalism at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. I would like to produce cultural stories. Therefore, I am specializing in cultural journalism now.